Oxford Time Travel Guide

With the release of Blackout and All Clear, there are now four books and one short story in the Oxford Time Travel series. Here’s what to look for and where to find them.

Fire Watch – Short story set during the Blitz with Mr. Bartholomew, an Oxford historian from the mid 2100s, travelling back in time to be part of the Fire Watch at St. Paul’s Cathedral.   It also introduces Kivrin and Mr. Dunworthy.

“Fire Watch” was first published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Feb 1982, is reprinted in the collection Fire Watch (first published by St Martin’s Press in 1985), reprinted in the Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories collection from Subterranean Press in 2008, and in a limited hardcover by WSFA press in 2010. It won the 1982 Nebula and 1983 Hugo awards for best novelette.

You can read it online here and listen to a Seeing Ear Thetre audio dramatization on this page.   More information can be found on the Wikipedia page for the story.

Doomsday Book – Novel released in 1992 telling the story of Oxford Historian Kivrin Engle’s trip to the middle ages, where time travel slippage causes her to be in the middle of the Black Death epidemic in 1348.  This is the first appearance of Colin.

Doomsday Book has seen an Easton Press edition as well as a SFBC 50th Anniversary Edition.   It won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1993 and tied with Vernor Vinge’s Fire Upon the Deep for for the Hugo Award for Best novel in 1993.  More information can be found on the Wikipedia page for the story.

To Say Nothing of the Dog: How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last – Novel released in 1998, which has a much lighter tone than Doomsday Book, and follows the adventures of Oxford historian Ned Henry, who is tasked to retrieve the Bishop’s Bird Stump from Coventry Cathedral before it was destroyed.  For a full plot summary, check  out the Wikipedia page on the novel.

To Say Nothing of the Dog won the Best Novel Hugo Award, a Locus Award and was nominated for the Nebula Award.  It has also be released in an Easton Press edition.

Blackout/All ClearThe recently released novel following three historians travelling back to the time of World War II to observe the “contemps” on the home front.  Things start to go wrong and they all discover their drops are not functioning and have to work together to survive and figure out a way to get back home.  

This story was intended to be a single novel, called All Clear, but kept growing as the scope expanded over several years of work.  It was determined that it should be split into two volumes, Blackout and All Clear, both released in 2010.  Connie Willis has indicated it should be considered one novel, not a duology. 

Both Blackout and All Clear have been released in signed limited editions by Subterranean Press.  More details can be found on their respective Wikipedia entries (Blackout, All Clear).  How the novel(s) do with the various awards will be determined in 2011.

5 Responses to Oxford Time Travel Guide

  1. Gordon Adams says:

    Just finished re-reading the first three as a refresher to Blackout, which I’ve been holding until All Clear was released. It occurred to me to wonder whether The Last of the Winnebagos belongs with this sequence as well, as it deals with the aftermath of the Pandemic, which is backstory to this series. Or is that a *different* Pandemic? If Winnebagos does belong, are there any other stories that fit in somewhere as well?

  2. Martin LaBar says:

    Thanks to my local library, I just finished All Clear. Splendid characters, setting, and plot, and the use of the painting, over and over, was splendid. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: World War II and the London Blitz « West Virginia Book Festival

  4. Ann says:


    I’m going to cut to the chase with this question: is Eileen’s daughter, Mary, the same person as Colin’s “great aunt Mary” Aherns of Doomsday Book? That would make Binnie his grandmother. I’m having a bit of trouble working this out in terms of the years — e.g. how could Eileen’s Mary possible still be alive in 2056? — but it’s the best I can do to figure out just what it is that Eileen, Binnie, and Polly all suddenly “see” about Colin at the end of All Clear. (My second-best guess is that Colin made numerous trips back to WWII at different stages of his life, which would mean that he truly was Flight Officer Lang and Sir Godfrey. . . . but that theory doesn’t quite make any sense.)

    Please! As the thief says to Dirty Harry, “I gots to know.”

  5. Carole Freeman says:

    I was first introduced to Connie Willis books, when I first read “DOOMSDAY BOOK” in 1993. I love time travel books, but most of all I love Historical books. Connie’s book was by far the best I have ever read. I had never felt so obsorbed into book as I had in this one. Nor had I read such a well researched novel on the Plague in the 14th century. My love for history was certainly addressed in this book. I also loved the characters such as Kivrin, Mr. Dunworthy and Colin. I hated to have this book end. Suddenly I wanted to read more of Connie Willis books…The next book I read was “TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG”. What a great Book and such a great Laugh! and yes, I did read “THREE MEN IN A BOAT” too!
    Now, I knew that I wanted to read all of Connie Willis Books..I was so surprised when I read “FIREWATCH”, that it was also about the time traveling historians and another brilliant story even though it was a short one. I couldn’t get enough of Connies books..Passage and Lincoln’s Dreams also really great reads and the subject matter so engrossing! …..But after Passages there seemed to be a lull, I checked constantly for a new Connie Willis book..The wait was worth it! During the waiting period for a new book, I retired my Public Service career of almost 31 years and decided to work part-time as a Bookseller. I always told customers of my love for Connie Willis books. When ‘BLACKOUT’ came out I read it in two days. I was so pumped about this book, that I handsold this book to customers. It was and still is my “Employee Favourite book pick”. Now that I have read “ALL CLEAR”, I will handsell them together . Along with the DOOMSDAY BOOK, BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR are in my top best books I have ever read. Thank you so much Connie for such a wonderful read and for fullfilling a fantasy of mine. I have often dreamt of going back through time to observe History as it really was back then. I would give anything to be one of your Historian’s from the future who gets to go back through time and experience History as it happened. Thank you again Connie for doing this for me. Your books have been more than a great read to me, they have been a wonderful experience! I look forward to your next book.

    Carole Freeman
    Best Connie Willis Fan Ever!!!

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